Hello Project Ezra! Easter is a bit over a week away, and it’s time to start thinking and praying more deeply about our Easter reading, if you are planning to participate. It’s also time to pick your day, and to contact people to join you, if you haven’t already done so. Many people will be thinking about Easter through the holiday weekend, so any day is appropriate. I will actually be doing my reading this weekend, since I’m going to visit family next week. But very few people will be thinking about the death and resurrection of Christ, the true meaning of Easter. That's why we will be going to the streets, to share that message with many who will not hear it otherwise.
Matthew 26 through 28 is the Easter story, so it is the passage we have chosen for this reading. If you are an experienced open-air preacher, you will likely be able to find multiple starting points for good gospel presentations. For those of you will less experience, here are some things to consider when using this, or any, passage of scripture for evangelism:
What the passage says and doesn't say - Some preachers (open-air or otherwise), will try to force the entire message of the gospel into any passage they read. That is not handling the Biblical text rightly. What you should try to do is to look at the passage and see what it's focus is. Some will cover aspects of sin or judgment, some will talk about God's mercy, or grace, or goodness, some will recount details of the life of Christ, and almost all will have something to tell us about the nature of God. Try to read the passage with an eye to the original intent of the author, and find the place that point has in a Biblical gospel presentation.
The Nature of God - The gospel is what it is because of who God is. Jesus came to die because God is both perfectly just and perfectly loving, and both truths of His nature had to be perfectly satisfied. A good idea is to contrast God's nature with ours and explain the dilemma this causes. I would recommend THIS video to give you a good starting point. Then explain the solution. Consider these thoughts:
God is good, and we are not. What must a good God do with people like us?
God is a good judge and we are guilty criminals. What must a good judge do with criminals like us? If He is a good judge, He must insure that justice is satisfied.
What if someone paid the fine and satisfied justice so we could go free? What if that someone were God Himself? God demonstrated His love in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God is a good and loving God. But because He is just, He cannot ignore sin. Instead, He paid for it on the cross.
Be sure you cover the basics - Every gospel presentation, and every open-air preaching session, will be different. This is due to the change in the scriptures used, the audience, the location/situation, and even the convictions of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer at the time. But regardless of the situation, we want to make sure that we cover the basics of the gospel. A general outline is below.
God created this world perfect
But mankind, out of pride, chose to rebel and fell into sin
God cursed the world as punishment, and now all men are born sinners, in rebellion against their creator
USE THE LAW (BE SPECIFIC) TO BRING CONVICTION OF SIN
Because of our rebellion, we are deserving of God's justice
The scriptures tell us that justice will be carried out in a very real place called Hell
But because God is not only a just judge, but also a loving Father, He made a way for justice to be satisfied, so we would not have to go to Hell
Jesus Christ, God the Son, humbled Himself and came to earth
He lived the perfect life that none of us did, and then died a perfect death on a Roman cross
On the cross, all God's anger and wrath toward sin was poured out on Him, so it would not have to be poured out on us.
Then He rose on the third day, as He had prophesied He would, and after appearing to His disciples, ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven.
He now sits as both judge, and advocate, and if we will turn from our sins and to the one true savior, trusting in Him alone to save us, then the price of our sins will be satisfied, we will be seen as righteous before God, and we will be free.
Then we will spend eternity in loving relationship and worship of God, as we were designed to do.
I pray that this is helpful, and I look forward to hearing how your readings went. If you need something more particular (perhaps something you could just read through) let me know, and I’ll see what I can do. God bless you, and have a great Easter weekend!!
All for His glory,